Keep our kids in school
Keep our kids in school
Why this petition matters
We are a group of concerned mothers committed to ensuring our children get the education that they deserve in the era of COVID. Our children have suffered through school restrictions initially put in place to “flatten the curve” so that our hospitals were not overwhelmed with COVID patients. Two full years later, we have a much better grasp of this virus and reasonable precautions to prevent hospitalization and serious illness. We also know much more about COVID (and the minuscule risk it presents to children), there are now widely available and proven effective treatments for COVID, and nearly everyone in our society has access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
Despite the lack of data showing that COVID restrictions in schools are still necessary or even effective, many of our children continue to be subjected to rigid COVID testing requirements, mask mandates, and unpredictable and inconsistent classroom or school quarantines, just to name a few. The current restrictions are resulting in days, and even weeks or months, of missed school for our children, harming them academically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally, and sending families into crisis. The science proves this. “Remote learning has been a disaster for America’s kids and I think we need to acknowledge that and we have to do everything we can to minimize any further remote learning,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health recently said. The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory on the youth mental health crisis caused by the disruption of in-person schooling due to COVID restrictions, and the AAP, AACAP, and CHA have declared a national emergency for children's mental health.
Meanwhile, the governor of our state has declared the COVID-19 emergency to be “over” despite the Omicron variant circulating, citing the fact that those that remain at risk for severe disease are overwhelmingly unvaccinated adults with underlying conditions (NY Post). Yet still, there has been no action taken to reduce the burden and impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children, or to meet their mental health or educational needs in any substantial, data-informed, and consistent way.
In reality, there is overwhelming data that serves to support loosening restrictions on children and on schools. Outside of the data that documents the severely negative impact of these restrictions on the mental health of children, consider that:
- “Data now suggest that many changes to school routines are of questionable value in controlling the virus’ spread. Some researchers are skeptical that school closures reduce Covid cases in most instances. Other interventions, like having students sit apart from their friends at lunch, may also have little benefit” (NY Times).
- “Severe versions of Covid, including long Covid, are extremely rare in children. For them, the virus resembles a typical flu. Children face more risk from car rides than Covid” (NY Times).
- Data specifically on the Omicron variant shows that “...the combination of vaccines and Omicron’s apparent mildness means that, for an individual, Covid increasingly resembles the kind of health risk that people accept every day” (NY Times).
- Of the 800,000 people that have died of COVID-19 in the United States, 535 of those (that’s 0.067%) are school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 18, while people 65 and older make up about three-quarters of the nation’s COVID-19 death toll (USA Today).
- And, finally, a top public health expert has declared, “that in-person school is safe for teachers and students” and that, “at this point there’s really no good explanation for having remote schools.” (INSIDER)
Meanwhile, the local picture is as follows:
The capacity at our hospitals is not currently at risk. According to an interactive map published by The New York Times that allows the public to view hospital capacity based on location, at the time of this writing, Valley View Hospital’s ICU occupancy is at 64%, Aspen Valley Hospital’s ICU occupancy is at 25%, and Vail Health Hospital's ICU occupancy is at 60% (NY Times). There is no emergency in our local hospitals.
The Aspen Hope Center, an agency that serves those in mental health crisis (generally, that means people that are primarily suicidal), saw an increase of 130% in their crisis evaluations for kids 11 and younger during the twelve months of 2021 as compared to the amount of crisis evaluations in the same age group during the twelve months of 2019. For the same time period, they saw a 64% increase for adolescents between 12 and 18, and a 28% increase in adults between 30 and 39 (which is typically the age of many parents of young children).
Our children are screaming for us.
And to what end? There are no metrics developed to tell us when our children will no longer need masks or when kids or entire classes who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive will no longer need to be quarantined. Hospitals are not currently overwhelmed. Children overwhelmingly fare well with the virus. Adults have made a choice of whether or not to get vaccinated and whether or not to vaccinate their children who are five and older, with full knowledge of the risks and benefits of that choice, and still, our children and our families are suffering immensely-- not from the virus itself, but from the policies that create and exacerbate all of the above.
That is not our children’s burden to bear. Their burden to bear is school work, navigating peer relationships, playing with each other, hugging each other, being stressed about tests, performing in holiday plays, enjoying birthday parties, being nervous about sporting games.
The burden to bear of adults who set policy is to ensure the policy reflects the data, reflects the risks, and allows children to get the best start to life possible. Maintaining policies that inadvertently traumatize children and teach them that they are to endure unnecessary hardship in order to bear the burden of adults’ decisions accomplishes the opposite of that task.
We mothers are tired of being told to “hang in there” and that “things will get better,” especially when no one is telling us what metrics or data are being used to determine when unreasonable school restrictions will end. The time to end them is now.
Please sign this petition to show that you support keeping our children in-school, in-person.